As parents, we love our children and we want to have great relationships with them. But sometimes, our actions and attitudes can unintentionally push them away. We can easily jeopardize the strong bond we have with our kids if we aren’t careful. But fortunately, we can also win the hearts of our children by making a few purposeful changes.
I’ve had the privilege of attending several seminars given by Kathie Morrissey over the years. Kathie is the founder of The Character Corner and she is a mom of 8 with 31 years experience as a homeschooler. In her session called “Winning Our Kids’ Hearts,” Kathie discusses some of the common mistakes which parents make that distance their children from them. She said that God gives our children a natural desire to please us and to be close to us; but, we can unknowingly squash that desire through our actions and reactions toward them.
Mistakes Parents Make
Kathie emphasized three major mistakes that we often make as parents. These include the following:
1 – Striving to have our children behave correctly on the outside; but, failing to emphasize the heart issues
When our children misbehave, we should try to find out what is behind our child’s behavior, rather than merely correcting them, so that their attitude and motivation will be right. It is more important for us to find the cause of their behavior than just to correct it on the outside but not to address the reason for their behavior.
2 – Striving to keep our children from doing wrong stuff; but, failing to befriend them ourselves
We are our children’s parents, not their friends. However, if we want strong relationships with our kids, we need to be friendly as well. There are several ways to do this:
- We must be willing to spend time with our children and get to know them.
- Talk to them.
- Be available to them when they need us.
- Really listen to them when they are talking.
- Give them our full attention. Don’t try to multitask while they are talking, even if we think we are doing something important.
- When we take something bad away from our children, we need to replace it with something good rather than having all of our encounters with them be negative.
- We will often find that our children are ready to open up their hearts to us right before bedtime. We should take advantage of this precious time rather than being in such a hurry to get them tucked in bed and get back out the door.
3 – Striving for compliance rather than working on a relationship with our children which would bring compliance
When we make lots of rules for our children to follow without having a close relationship with them, this breeds rebellion. Often we mistake being harsh with our children for being firm. As our children get older, we need to explain why we are asking our children to behave a certain way. Instead of wanting to be right, we need to desire wisdom.
Anger is one of the fastest ways to lose our child’s heart. Our anger drives a wedge between us and them. When our children are angry, we should ask them if there is something that we have done. When we are angry, we should be sure to apologize. And be willing to apologize often! This is a great way to begin restoring a strong and healthy relationship with our children. Amazingly, we will find that our kids are usually eager to forgive us
.As you can see, in our quest to be good parents we can often alienate our children. Fortunately, there is hope. In her seminar, Kathie also details practical ways for parents to win the heart of our kids. No matter how we’ve behaved in the past, there are things we can do to restore our relationship with our children.
Win The Hearts of Our Kids
Below are 8 practical ways for us to win the hearts of our kids:
1 – Let our children know that we love them for who they are and not because of what they do
It’s so easy to find fault with our children but we need to be intentional about affirming them as well. Here are some ideas for letting our kids know how much we love them:
- Send them notes telling them what we like about them.
- Say things that will make them smile and let them know that we are thinking about them.
- Randomly buy them something that they like.
- Make their favorite meal.
- Plan special one-on-one outings with our kids.
- Be sure to brag on them to others when our kids can hear us.
- Praise our children for their character.
2 – Be fair and reasonable with discipline
One of the best ways to do this is to be consistent. It’s extremely confusing and unfair to our kids when we allow something to slide over and over and then punish them for it on occasion.
Also, we have to be careful to treat our children the same rather than being harsher with one than with the other, even if one child appears to require more discipline. We shouldn’t correct or discipline our children in front of others or tease them about sensitive issues.
3 – Show honor to our children
We desire respect from our children and we should show them respect as well. We do this by asking them to do things rather than making demands. Be careful to use a kind tone of voice when speaking to them. And be sure to say please and thank-you to them. We are parents not drill sergeants.
4 – Show our children affection
Be sure that our actions show our children that we love them. When we’re in a hurry or are irritated, it’s easy for our kids to be under the impression that they are a bother to us rather than a blessing. Here are some easy ways to show affection to our kids:
- Tell them we love them.
- Give them hugs.
- Be kind to them.
- Smile at them.
5 – Talk to our children and listen to them when they talk
In today’s culture, we are often so busy and caught up in our own responsibilities that we don’t spend as much time talking with our kids as we should. Some important things we should discuss with our kids are:
- Find out what’s important to them.
- Find out what’s bothering them.
- Ask them questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
- Don’t accuse our children.
- Try to be aware of our child’s emotions.
- Respect their feelings.
6 – Be crazy and fun
We want our kids to want to be with us. Laugh with them. Have fun with them. Play with them. Joke around with them. Be someone they want to spend time with.
7 – Apologize when we need to
As moms, we are extremely busy and we have a lot of responsibility on our plate. We also have hormones raging through us from time to time. And unfortunately, we tend to overreact. We should try to be more aware of our responses and be ready to apologize when this happens.
8 – Pray for our children
This one needs no explanation. We are living in a complex and broken world. Like us, our children do not have the capability to make it through the trials of life without help. We need to pray for our children daily.
As you can see, there are many practical ways to be able to connect with our children. They want to have a close relationship with us. As parents, it is up to us to form and maintain that relationship. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be as hard as we often make it. If you would like to learn more tips from Kathie Morrissey, you can visit her website at The Character Corner.
Question: Have you learned from making any of these mistakes? Do you have any other tips for winning a child’s heart? Please leave a comment below.